The Herald today launches a Christmas fundraising appeal with Scotland's biggest home-grown children's charity Aberlour.
The charity works with 6000 children and families each year, through more than 40 different services across the country.
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Readers who donate to the cause will be helping at-risk young people, many of whom are victims of neglect or abuse, crime or parental addiction, and countless other social problems.
Aberlour, whose headquarters is in Stirling, works with some of the most vulnerable youngsters in an attempt to prevent or undo the harm caused by their circumstances and to give them a brighter future.
Between 40,000 to 60,000 children in Scotland are affected by their parents' drug misuse, around 100,000 live with domestic violence and 125,000 people in Scotland under the age of 19 have substantial mental health problems. Aberlour is working in all these areas.
With ground-breaking services including Scotland's first refuge for young runaways, respite services for families with a child affected by physical or learning disabilities, residential care homes for children from troubled backgrounds, centres to promote positive parenting and initiatives to divert young people at risk of involvement in gang culture, the charity is on the frontline of tackling some of Scotland's most acute social problems.
It is also involved as a lobbying and campaigning organisation, aiming to contribute to national policy on issues affecting children and young people. Because it does not operate in other parts of the UK, its community projects and campaigning work are entirely focused on the needs of families in Scotland.
Founded as an orphanage in the Speyside village which gives it its name, Aberlour now does far more to benefit children across the country.
But it needs help to do so. Like all charities, it is facing huge challenges at a time when income from donations and other sources is harder to come by. This coincides with a sharp increase in demand for services as public funding for youth provision is reduced and the harsh economic climate means more families are struggling and in need of help.
Magnus Llewellin, deputy editor of The Herald, said: "At a time when financial and social pressures on many families are acute, Aberlour works at the sharp end to help those in greatest need, with a unique understanding of the needs of children in Scotland.
"We are pleased to back Aberlour's work with our Christmas appeal and urge readers to support it."
Ken Dunbar, chief executive of Aberlour Child Care Trust, said: "Aberlour is delighted to have been chosen as The Herald's Christmas charity and we look forward to sharing our experiences of working with some of Scotland's most vulnerable children and families with your readers.
"Christmas may well be a time of joy for most families and children, but it can be a very difficult time for children in care, for those who may have no choice but to run away from home or for families facing difficult personal and financial circumstances which are felt more profoundly at Christmas time.
"We are absolutely certain with the help of Herald readers and the Christmas fundraising appeal, we can make this Christmas a much brighter one for vulnerable children across Scotland."
There are various ways that you can contribute to The Herald Aberlour Christmas Appeal:
Text the word HARK to 70707 to donate £10.
To donate online go to www.aberlour.org.uk/heraldappeal
To donate via Just Giving, go to www.justgiving.com/heraldchristmasappeal
You can also scan this QR code to go to the web page
To donate by post, make cheques payable to Aberlour and send to The Herald Aberlour Christmas Appeal, FREEPOST SCO1126, Stirling FK8 2BR.